48 (Magical) Hours in Cartagena

27276F8C-964F-4CD1-8279-8CD8D5845ACFYou can’t help but fall in love with Cartagena.  With its unique blend of colonial charm and sultry Caribbean sass, it’s like no place I have ever been in Latin America. With only 48 hours you need to devour this amazing city. I can tell you already, it’s not enough time,  so plan on coming back–and squeezing a lot into 2 days!


Day 1
Fly directly into Cartagena and then it is just a skip and a jump via private car to the Old City where you will stay at the perfectly located and ridiculously adorable Hotel Bantu.
D6B5A4FB-B7AF-469A-919B-5B07B2FFB900Welcome drink in hand, go explore the nooks and crannies of the hotel with it’s resident toucan and lush courtyard.
You won’t want to linger long, however, as the colorful streets of Cartagena are waiting.
0451689A-664F-45A5-BF7C-C63D95BA4223Be sure and to stroll aimlessly down the cobblestone streets, stopping frequently for pictures that will never do justice to how beautiful it is.
07738066-9854-4961-A739-B6ED3B45BA5F If you can pull yourself away from picture taking, head to Epoca for a decadent brunch and to get your first, sweet sip of Colombian coffee.
1435632F-3D42-46A4-AA53-100274D52A0CAnd then it’s time to wander. And then a bit more wandering.
D0F64DBA-FB3F-42DA-BC74-64EA509879DCCan’t get enough of these streets, can you? Yep. Me either.

F832155F-A26A-44D5-942D-6EA561728FA8And then of course there are the things that remind you that Cartagena, as picturesque as it is, is still a Colombian city through and through as you can tell by these clever business ladies hacking time on their cell phones for users who have used up their minutes. Ingenious.

Once you have worked up a good Caribbean sweat, head to the Plaza Fernandez Madrid. Find a table outside at Restaurante Bar Plaza Fernandez de Madrid. 86AC252B-0A3B-49C6-A24D-5CE4AA35D6B9Be sure to order the risotto with clams. You will not regret it. We’re still talking about this dish a month later!
And of course, order an icy drink to take in all the street performers that could entertain you for hours.
EFBBD64D-916E-467C-B23A-38758081B846As you make your way back to the hotel, soak in all the brilliant colors and beautiful people.

Head back to the hotel to rest or perhaps swing (seriously they have one.)

Once the hot sun falls behind the trees, head back out into the maze of streets, which take on a completely different feel in the dark. Be sure to take the requisite carriage ride to hear about the history of this grand city.
6DCE31A2-4FA2-4641-84ED-90CB97E98B71And of course try some tasty treats like Hormigas Colonas, which are giant toasted ants. When in Cartagena, right?!94812B01-5871-41E0-B697-625729C9618FHead over to the Plaza Bolivar to finish the night with a drink in hand, swaying to the sounds of a live band. Get to sleep early, however, as you will have a busy day ahead.

Day 2:
Wake up in the beautiful Hotel Bantu. Grab some fruit from the buffet and head to Juan Valdez Café, Colombia’s (slower) version of Starbucks.

598B2470-0AB9-4ACE-811F-C4ACBEEB4048Now it is time for more picture taking, people watching and shopping!
88D6EB56-C703-42DF-A27E-C2766D54EB1DBe sure to pick up a colorful bag and a signature Cartagena hat. You’ve got to look the part, right?
As hard as it will be to leave the colorful streets behind, you can’t go to Cartagena without seeing the Castillo San Felipe. So grab a taxi and head on over!
B865746A-32BC-4F61-B8D1-63CDDFC20FACTake a few pictures, read a few signs, and learn about the history of this grand fortress.
B22205D8-613F-40F9-8EC6-452F0B64939AAnd just like that, you need to speed back to the old town for the highlight of the day, the Street Food and Street Art Tour from Cartagena Connections.


You will love all the tasty treats from food carts bumping into busy streets. Who knew there were so many versions of arepas?!
And some seriously interesting fruits too.
1DAD3555-A112-4363-B8F7-ACBF67C9D873And fresh popsicles bought from sky blue windows.

Keep your eyes peeled for some seriously sweet street art.
CE9BC5F3-089D-4985-8EBB-B42FAEC9B59EI mean  there has to be a pass for graffiti when it is this great, right!?
3331611A-04E1-49EE-80F1-8A324DA900E1Kristy, the ultra cool and super in- the-know Australian who owns Cartagena Connections, will give you all the trivia and history you actually want to know, saving  the details about years cathedrals were built for the hordes seniors disembarking on cruise tours.
You can’t go to Cartagena without noticing the door knockers, which she told us were akin to having a Mercedes pulled out front back in the day-the bigger the knocker, the more important you were and the type indicated your profession. Lizards? Signified royalty.
The tour will leave you (very full) in the bohemian neighborhood of Getsemani, where locals and backpackers mingle in perfect harmony.

Make your way over the Plaza Trinidad where you will find affordable and hip restaurants and bars. Grab an outside table and a salty michelada to rest your weary legs before heading to Cartagena Craft Beer. Order a Cerveza de Coca- you won’t regret it.
45C3CA30-8B87-474F-A9D5-A77BA0481CC7As you know wandering is at the top of the list in Cartagena, so after bar and restaurant hopping, stroll around burning off calories and taking in the magic.
8EDA5EAB-1008-4A1D-91B4-33AA61A93DB1Because that’s it. 48 hours is definitely not enough. Coming back? Be sure to check out the sleek Bocagrande neighborhood and take day trips to cultural Palenque or one of the breathtaking beaches on the Rosaria Islands or Isla Baru.

Either way, I think we will both be back. For now, adios sweet Cartagena.

Whoever you are, wherever you are, find the magic.



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